The top two teams meet, as do the third and fourth teams, as the best in Liga MX jostle for Liguilla position - and the worst try to turn things around in the ninth round.
|Friday, February 28|
|Saturday, March 1|
|Sunday, March 2|
Morelia - Atlante
Morelia looked like it may have turned the corner on what's been a very difficult campaign but looked like the same team that started the Liga MX season poorly and crashed out of the Copa Libertadores in a 3-0 loss last week to Pachuca. Atlante hasn't been much better, but looks to have shored up its sketchy defense and got a result against that same Pachuca team that tormented Morelia a week before.
Santos - Atlas
With Oribe Peralta needing a rest and a handful of other Santos players out with injury, manager Pedro Caixinha will be a bit relieved to see Atlas coming to Torreon this weekend rather than a higher-powered club. Santos was overpowered by Leon last weekend but showed a bit of fight to get back, and they'll need that competitive edge to overcome an Atlas side that will be eager to get some more points in its attempt to stay in the top division.
Cruz Azul - Toluca
It's No. 1 versus No. 2 at the Estadio Azul this weekend, with Toluca's surprising defeat to Santos the only loss either team has suffered. The Red Devils' Issac Brizuela fired the team through to victory against Chivas last weekend and has been one of the league's best players early, something Miguel Herrera has noticed. But Cruz Azul has been the best team by far with the Marco Fabian experiment paying huge dividends, and Mauro Formica is also in fine form. Yet with five of the team's league-leading seven victories coming against teams not in the Liguilla places, Toluca provides the stiffest test to date.
Veracruz - Tijuana
If ever Xolos are to break their abysmal road record, this seems like the fixture in which to do so. Veracruz slid to the foot of the table after losing to Tigres last weekend, and memory of a decent start to the season with five points from three matches has been forgotten with the club coming in on a five-match losing snap. Except, of course, that Tijuana hasn't won on the road in more than a year and was just embarrassed at home when Chiapas thrashed it 3-0. Feelings of futility will be strong if there's a loser in this match.
Monterrey - America
Many in the capital are in a panic after Club America dropped its third straight match after Pumas' Daniel Luduena keyed a 3-1 win at the Estadio Azteca. But a road match to face Rayados is certainly more welcoming than it has been in seasons past. New manager Carlos Barra will want to impress the home supporters, who quickly tired of "El Profe" Cruz, but a win last weekend against Atlas proves little. Beating America, even though its coming in on a skid, would have far more weight.
Chiapas - Leon
If Leon was a sleeping lion, perhaps still sleeping off the celebrations from its Apertura championship, it appears to have been roused to life. The team hasn't in either the league or the Copa Libertadores since its opener in the CONMEBOL competition, a 2-1 toppling of Flamengo, and its 4-2 win against Santos was emphatic, with four goals in the first half and the second used to kill things off. It would be a mistake, though, to go into Jaguares' den not expecting a fight. The club is riding high after a 3-0 road win in Tijuana and has only lost at home to league-leaders Cruz Azul during the Clausura.
Puebla - Queretaro
Queretaro is still in Liga MX - for now. Financial difficulty has hit the club with its owner being investigated for falsifying financial documents among other misdeeds. Things are going only marginally better on the pitch, with the Gallos Blancos dropping their previous two matches. Cruz Azul and Chivas provide stiffer opposition than Puebla, so perhaps a victory could distract a bit from the off-field problems. Puebla will be hoping the visitors are distracted enough by the lack of pay that it can score a goal - something La Franca hasn't done in its last five matches across all competitions.
Pumas - Pachuca
One of the weekend's best matchups pits third place Pumas against a Pachuca team just behind it in the standings. Pumas' Martin Bravo's six goals still leads the tournament, but Pachuca's Enner Valencia is just a goal behind. Will Bravo break through once more after two weeks without scoring? Will Valencia be able to match his double from last weekend's 3-0 win against Morelia? Or will this be the traditional boring, defensive match that always occurs when goals are promised? With Pumas' back line, the latter is unlikely.
Chivas - Tigres
Two historically successful clubs do battle in the weekend's finale. Tigres had a miserable start to the season and was sitting in last place for several weeks; however, the team has found its legs recently. Four matches unbeaten, including the first win of the tournament last week have the faithful in Monterrey feeling a bit better. Still, despite a 1-0 loss last week to Toluca, Chivas is much-improved from last tournament, and Tigres victory came against now-bottom Veracruz. The visitors have to find a way to score a few more goals if they're going to grab any points in the Omnilife.
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